The Return of Cast Commercials: TV Stars Pitching Products

Recalling the golden age of radio and the early years of television, advertisers are once again embracing cast commercials — or advertisements featuring actors in-character promoting products and companies. NBCUniversal is lending its actors to promote the 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Likewise, ABC has done the same in the past year for Target commercials. The “editorial-styled” approach is thought to be a softer, more enjoyable sell for viewers.

Cast commercials were popular long ago, “during the golden age of radio and the early years of television, when advertisers and agencies owned the programs they sponsored,” reports The New York Times. The article explains how cast members would “deliver a spiel or two” during the shows while in-character. Now, these kinds of ads seem to be making a comeback.

According to NYT, ABC lent its actors from shows like “Modern Family” and “Revenge” for Target ads, and personalities from NBCUniversal-owned programs like “E! News” and “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” will be promoting the Chrysler Group’s Jeep in the first quarter of 2014.

This form of advertising is returning because of its “gentler touch that soft-pedal[s] the hard-selling tactics of typical commercials,” notes NYT. The ads are often weaved into the script rather than interrupting the script.

Alison Tarrant, executive vice president for the client solutions group at NBCUniversal in New York tells NYT that cast commercials are “so valuable now” because of their “storytelling component.”

“More advertisers and agencies are concluding that spinning tales rather than being hucksters makes ads more palatable and less annoying to consumers,” says NYT.